Voting and Texas politics
Earlier this month (Sept. 13), the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) issued notice that driver license offices across the state would begin temporary Saturday operating hours to issue Election Identification Certificates. Those locations include several in the Dallas Metro and Senate District 23 area.
I encourage anyone who does not have a valid Texas driver license or state-issued identification card to take advantage of this opportunity. But before you rush out, please hear the full message.
First, these offices that will open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. through Saturday -November 2, are open only to issue Election Identification Certificates, not driver licenses or state IDs. Driver licenses and state-issued ID cards can be obtained during normal Monday - Friday operating hours at all DPS driver license office locations.
Secondly, if you have a valid Texas driver license or valid state-issued ID, you do not need a voter identification certificate to be able to vote. And if your Texas driver license or state-issued ID has been expired for less than 60 days, it can still be used as an identification document in order to vote.
Understand also, that if you have a Texas driver license, state-issued ID or any of the other approved forms of identification permitted under state law, you are not eligible to receive an Election Identification Certificate. The Election Identification Certificate, which contains a photograph of the holder, can only be used for voting purposes.
The Election Identification Certificate was created as part of Senate Bill 14 (SB14) that was passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011. It is better known as the Voter ID law. Under this bill, a citizen of Texas is eligible to vote in person only if they have the approved forms of photo identification.
In addition to the Texas driver license and state-issued ID, a registered voter may also present a U.S. passport, a concealed handgun license (CHL), a U.S. Military photo ID or a U.S. Citizenship Certificate or Certificate of Naturalization (with photo) to be eligible to vote in an election held in this state. With exception of the U.S. Citizenship Certificate or Certificate of Naturalization, all other approved forms of identification must be valid or have expired within the previous 60 days.
The Election Identification Certificate was created in response to critics of SB14, including me, who said that the new photo ID requirements would make it harder to vote because there are hundreds of thousands of people who live in Texas who have been eligible to vote previously who do not have a driver license or state-issued ID.
For years, registered Texas voters were allowed to vote if they showed a valid voter registration card. While the voter registration card is still issued, and contains the same information on polling locations and voting precincts as before, beginning with the November 2013 election cycle, Texas voters must show the approved forms of photo ID to be eligible to vote in person. The Voter ID law however, does not impact eligibility requirements for mail-in ballots.
Although SB14 was passed in 2011, Texas could not enforce the new law until a June 2013 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court declared that laws that require federal clearance before changes can be made to voting laws (Section 5 - Voting Rights Act) were no longer enforceable. Challenges to the implementation of the Voter ID law on grounds other than Section 5 are ongoing, but Texas voters should be prepared to meet the requirements should the law be upheld.
Dallas County driver license offices that will open on Saturdays
2625 Old Denton Rd. #464
Carrollton, TX 75007
|Dallas-Garland Mega Center
4445-A Saturn Rd.
Garland, TX 75041
|Cedar Hill - (District 23)
116 W. Belt Line Rd. #2
Cedar, Hill TX 75104
|Garland Office - (DPS Regional HQ)
350 W. I-30
Garland, TX 75043
|Dallas East -
11411 E. NW Hwy. #111
Dallas, TX 75218
|Grand Prairie -
550 S. Carrier Pkwy. #570
Grand Prairie, TX 75051
|Dallas Southwest - (District 23)
5610 Red Bird Center #500
Dallas, TX 75237
1003 W. 6th St.
Irving, TX 75060